Our guest blogger today is Maria Queen, Federal Interagency Youth Initiatives, Community and Supportive Services Grant Manager, Office of Public and Indian Housing
Youth violence is a serious problem in the United States. The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates that 5,048 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 were victims of homicide in 2009. Youth and gang violence are problems that affect communities – urban, suburban, and rural – across the entire United States. Beyond public safety, youth violence negatively affects our nation’s communities on multiple levels, including business viability and economic prosperity. On the other hand, the benefits of preventing youth violence can be strong and long lasting.
Across the country, called to action by President Obama, federal agencies and local stakeholders are doing important work to strengthen communities in their work of preventing violence and promoting the safety, health, and development of our nation’s youth, through an effort called the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention (the National Forum). When all stakeholders come together and align their work, youth and gang violence can be reduced while improving outcomes for young people.
For this reason, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan today joined senior leadership from across the Administration, including Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary for Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, to offer opening remarks at the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. The two-day summit is led by the Forum Coordination Team, with members from every federal agency participating in the National Forum.
At President Obama’s direction, the National Forum was established to build a national conversation concerning youth and gang violence that would increase awareness, drive action, and build local capacity to more effectively address youth violence through comprehensive planning. Modeling a new kind of federal and local collaboration, the National Forum encourages its members to change the way they do business by sharing common challenges and promising strategies through coordinated action.
Since the National Forum’s launch in October 2010, participating federal agencies from the Departments of Justice, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy have collaborated with six cities participating in the National Forum. Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis and two cities in California – Salinas and San Jose – have not only developed comprehensive youth violence prevention plans but, with the training and technical assistance provided by the National Forum federal partners, these cities have implemented these plans.
HUD’s commitments to the National Forum have included: engaging local public housing authorities in each of National Forum cities; building on the existing work of HUD’s Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships by connecting more local non-profits and faith based entities to each National Forum city; and aligning existing efforts of our Office of Policy Development & Research’s Office of Philanthropic and International Affairs to each National Forum city for potential private sector partnerships.
The summit will highlight the promising strategies the six cities are implementing and further make the case that youth violence is preventable if we work together. Congress recently appropriated funds for the National Forum to expand to additional cities, and HUD is committed to continuing its efforts as a partner and one of helping communities across the country become safer and healthier places for families and youth.
For more information and to find out how you can get involved in reducing youth violence, please visit the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention Web site at www.findyouthinfo.gov/youth-topics/preventing-youth-violence.